Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Excitement in the anchor field

It's dark and the rain is whipping around my ears. The visibility is miserable, you can see just 50 meters far. It is cold, wet and for the first time since the Canary Islands, I have unpacked my Frisian mink. Gale-force winds of up to 50 knots are indicated by the anemometer. The Hahnepot comes again and again out of the water and the boat jerks in. Fortunately we hold quite well. I turn on the plotter to monitor the position. The engine is ready to go, just in case. We are in the anchor field off Rikitea and the Gambierns show themselves, tonight, from a quite nasty side.

Anchorage Rikitea, Gambier Islands

I get a huge fright when we suddenly, by 20 meters, move backwards. We were a good 50 meters from the reef edge and have now approached to 30 meters. There is a jolt and we stop again. But what was the reason? The neighboring yacht, an aluminum monohull, has broken loose. With a 180° turn the anchor has come out and the yacht starts to drift. She gets stuck on our chain and pulls us 20 meters with her. Luckily the back of the anchor slips over our chain and comes loose again. We hold, but the French yacht drifts towards the reef. With 30 knots of wind and 50 knots in the gust, it's hard to communicate on your own boat, let alone call a boat drifting 10 meters past you. Unfortunately, the Frenchman doesn't speak a word of English and we only speak a smattering of French. So communication is extremely difficult. What we didn't know is that the yacht has rudder damage. The boat is sailed single-handed and you can imagine how stressed the owner is. Finally he is able to start the engine and free himself from the reef, but his maneuverability is very limited. We can't believe it at first, when he is heading towards us again. The wind then pushes him away from us and he drives a circle. I notice that he hasn't even brought up the anchor yet. He tries to do that now. The endeavor remains hopeless, however, with the wind. Nevertheless, he manages a few meters, which bring his boat closer to ours again. In the meantime we have put out fenders and are waiting for him. Together we try to keep the boat at a distance. In the meantime the anchor field is alerted and a dinghy comes to help. We untie the anchor line and tie a fender to it to avoid losing the anchor. A second dinghy comes to help and together we moor the yacht at the nearby pier. So far the danger is averted. Since the line has stretched under our boat over the two shafts, it remains to be seen if we have suffered any damage. We hope not, of course. I will probably have to do a dive tomorrow and take a closer look at the whole thing.

Mangareva, Gambier Islands

The next morning we are informed about the background and that the yacht has to return to the anchorage. Another supply ship is coming and needs the space at the pier. To make sure we don't have an anchor mess, we raise anchor and move something to have more space. Unfortunately in the pouring rain. At least the wind has died down a bit, if only intermittently. At our new anchorage, gusts of up to 51 knots assault us again. Another yacht, from Greenland, gets into trouble this time, but he makes it under his own power, even if it takes him over two hours. In the meantime, the supply ship has arrived and is maneuvered to the pier. As if out of the blue, it suddenly clears up, and the whole spook is over. At least for this time. The supply ship Nukuhau is already the second one this week. We are told that one comes every three weeks, and the other every four weeks. Due to the different time interval it can happen that two ships arrive in one week. We have not questioned the sense and nonsense of such determinations for a long time. We will see what there is to buy tomorrow. This time we will be on our feet at five in the morning. The day after the first supply ship we were in the first store at six o'clock and we already had trouble getting potatoes and onions. Tomatoes were also already sold out and the SIM cards announced by the post office were not there either. So we continue to rely on the wifi hotspots in Rikitea. After one hour, store opening time is already over half gone or close to sold out. So you have to be quick in Rikitea. In another area, however, you can safely take your time.

Pearls from the Gambier Islands

We stand in front of a box in the pearl store and look at the black, partly dark gray iridescent, balls. Some are beautifully round, others again drop-shaped. There are some that are white, others beige. We choose a few and have small holes drilled in them so that we can literally string them on the pearl necklace. Gaby wants a pair of stud earrings. I've known her for over 23 years now, and in all that time she's never had a stud in her ear. But as we all know, women change their minds from time to time, and so she wears her stud earrings, with two beautiful black pearls, with pride. In addition, I make her a chain of a large white pearl and two smaller black. She is also happy about it and wears it when she goes ashore. Maybe I'll borrow a stud earring from her sometime. Unfortunately, we ran out of money on the pearl deal, since the motto here is that only cash is real. The only ATM on the island also spits out nothing more, because he has run out of money. Remains simply to hope that the Supplyboat which has brought, or the next plane, on Saturday, will bring money. We'll tell you next time whether we'll be able to stock up on cash again. Until then, always fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.